By Brian McCarthy
Some people say that you shouldn’t pitch your business until you’ve perfected your presentation. While this is true, in reality you also need to gain experience if you want to improve. That’s why we chose to pitch our startup Brandollo early and to pitch it often.
However things haven’t always gone perfectly – on more than one occasion I’ve found myself on stage, searching for the same words that I’d rehearsed all afternoon. It’s been a learning experience and over the last eight months we’ve gone from being runners up, to finalists, and then finally to winning.
So what are the six things that came out of all of this pitching?
1. Prizes and support
In the beginning, most startups are bootstrapped. That means that you pay for everything the business needs out of your own pocket. Pitching offers an incredible opportunity to access valuable prizes that you would otherwise need to add to your list of expenses.
To put this into perspective, Brandollo has secured about $20,000 in prizes over the last eight months! These prizes range from six months free coworking with TwoSpace, thousands of dollars towards courses with Academy Xi, valuable AWS credits, free legal advice, free accounting advice, a three day pass to the Pausefest conference, and so much more.
We’ve used these prizes and have appreciated every single one of them. Pitching can be a wonderful source of support that many Startups seem to overlook.
2. Precious feedback
There’s nothing like pitching to a crowd and a panel of judges to make you feel the heat. It forces to you to answer difficult questions in public and then when you leave the stage, to ask yourself new ones.
The feedback that we’ve received from judges and participants has been an incredible source of insights and knowledge. Also, the collective response from a crowded room will test your idea in a way that just isn’t possible if you’re standing in the crowd.
3. A public leap of faith
At Brandollo we’re building an automated marketing assistant for small business. Brandollo delivers customised marketing advice to small companies and startups that have limited budgets (by the way, if you need a good marketing strategy we can help with that). We believe that technology means that all small businesses should be able to access the marketing advice they need, at a price they can afford. That’s our vision.
If you want other people to believe in your vision, then it’s important to demonstrate that you believe in it too. Like, really believe in it. Presenting to a crowd may feel intimidating, but it’s also an opportunity to show people that your belief in what you’re doing is greater than your fear of getting on stage.
4. Finding a cofounder
I’m a non-technical founder and I began this journey alone. While I was capable of building our MVP, I didn’t have the technical skills required to build our product. What I needed was a technical cofounder: somebody who had strengths in the areas that I was weak in, and who would be a key partner to share the startup journey with.
It took months before I finally met my cofounder. When we did connect it was because he saw Brandollo being pitched at an event and could immediately see its potential. If we hadn’t been pitching, then that connection couldn’t have happened.
5. Discover networks and friends
We’ve pitched at events run by organisations ranging from Silicon Beach Australia, TwoSpace, Startup Victoria, Myriad and many more. During that time we’ve met some amazing members of the Australian startup community. This includes fellow founders, startup investors, mentors, and supporters. It’s fair to say that many of those people have now become valued friends.
6. Joining an accelerator program
In April this year, Brandollo was selected to join the CEA-backed Collider Accelerator in Brisbane. This was an opportunity for us to work with some of the most successful mentors and entrepreneurs from across Australia.
One of the final hurdles to being accepted to the program was a competitive pitch to a panel of judges and a room full of founders. All of those previous pitches that we‘d completed in the previous months, helped us to prepare for that opportunity.
If you’re a startup or you simply have an idea that you believe in, get out of your comfort zone and pitch it. You never know, you might just unlock a world of new possibilities.
Brian McCarthy is founder and CEO of Brandollo.